Late Three Goal Blitz Seals Win

By Harry Ogilvie

  • Jose Mourinho names an unchanged team
  • Bailly, Lukaku, Pogba and Martial net for United

Manchester United travelled to Wales to face a weakened Swansea City side. After star man, Gylfi Sigurdsson left to join Everton earlier this week.

The Icelandic international who has regularly been a thorn in United’s side joined the Merseyside club for £45 million.

Jose Mourinho opted to stick with the same starting eleven that defeated a poor West Ham team 4-0. This meant despite coming on and grabbing both a goal and an assist, Anthony Martial would start on the bench.

This was probably down to the impressive performances from Mata, Mkhitaryan and Marcus Rashford.

The boss would also be hoping the centre back partnership of Eric Bailly and Phil Jones would produce another solid performance and continue their good form.

The midfield duo of Matic and Pogba would also retain their places to keep the spine strong and physical as ever.

Bailly Nets First United Goal

Manchester United started the stronger of the two teams, dominating possession for the most part and passed the ball fluently.

However, apart from hitting the bar, chances were few and far between until Daley Blind whipped in a corner which Pogba headed off the bar, only for Bailly to tap the ball in for his first United goal.

The goal came at the perfect time, just before half-time and after a strong performance against West Ham, it was nothing less than the Ivorian deserved.

Bailly follows up to give United the lead after Pogba header tipped against the bar

It was exactly what United needed after a frustrating first half which seen Pogba being booked for a kick out and Rashford voicing his frustration as he felt he was being fouled regularly and the referee was doing little to protect him.

In the second half, Swansea appeared far more troubling as they kept possession a bit better and attempted to create more chances and threaten United’s backline.

The Swans looked especially dangerous from set pieces which surprised reds considering the size of the United team.

Three Goal Blitz Seals The Three Points

However, United took advantage of Swansea’s wasteful finishing as they showed exactly how to be clinical, scoring three goals in four minutes to put United 4-0 up.

Lukaku put United 2-0 up when Mkhitaryan played the ball through for the Belgian to finish comfortably.

The third goal came from Paul Pogba after another great assist from Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The French £89 million midfielder finished perfectly as Fabianski rushed out allowing Pogba to put the ball over his head and into the net.

Pogba then proceeded to grab an assist as he played through Anthony Martial who dribbled his way inside and stuck the ball right in the corner.

The young winger has once again staked his claim to a starting spot. He now has two goals in two games, as well as an assist. United saw the game out after a jaw-dropping last 10 minutes.

Bailly And Jones Impress At The Back

The best performance of the game came from Phil Jones, who despite being linked with a move away at the beginning of the summer has began the season with some unbelievable performances.

The Englishman has made himself undroppable with his impressive defensive showings. He’s proven himself to be reliable and exceptionally solid as he has done everything asked of him in recent games.

Eric Bailly is another player who deserves a nomination for man of the match for his defensive showing.

The 23 year old has been a sensational find from Mourinho and he looks like he is going to continue his form from last season.

Bailly, like Jones did everything asked of him as well as scoring the first goal at a crucial time in the game. This was the former Villarreal centre-back’s first goal in professional football.

Martial Impresses From Bench Once Again

The showing in opening eighty minutes was not particularly great but in the closing ten minutes, United really came to life and a big reason for this was Anthony Martial.

As soon as the Frenchman came on, United looked far more threatening.

The substitute was involved in nearly all the goals after he came on. He gave the ball to Mkhitaryan who laid the ball off for Lukaku’s goal, in addition to scoring a goal himself.

He made a massive impact after he came on and looked very dangerous. Martial definitely deserves a starting place after his performances against West Ham and now, Swansea.

Martial capped an impressive performance from the bench, scoring the fourth goal

Paul Pogba also appeared to come to life in the last 15 minutes; controlling possession, playing incisive forward passes and dragging the side forward with his trademark marauding runs.

His pass for Martial’s goal allowed the winger to control the ball comfortably and take on the defenders in front of him.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan also deserves a huge amount of credit for his start of the season, grabbing two assists against both West Ham last week and Swansea this week.

The Armenian only got one assist last season. He already has four assists this season. This has led to claims he could break Mesut Ozil’s record of 20 Premier League assists.

The Manager’s View

Jose Mourinho said there were “differences” in the performance compared to West Ham, but thinks “the same kind of consistency, confidence and discipline” were there.

But he said there was “obviously, a period where they created chances. They brought emotion to the game. But it was always in control.”

When asked about the way his side were playing, he said “maybe, (happy) is not the right word. But I like the confidence.”

The former Chelsea boss also showed that he now trusts his side by saying “after the second goal, we wanted to score more, not shut the door.”

This shows he now trusts his side’s defensive ability and will allow them to go for the throat when possible. He said he decided to “let the horse run freely” and that “they were magnificent”.

Mourinho is clearly very pleased with the performance and rightly so after yet another big win.

Match Reflection

After yet another flawless performance, United and Jose Mourinho deserve massive credit; scoring 8 goals and conceding none.

This Manchester United squad looks like the first since Fergie’s era to be capable of a serious title challenge. There is finally a superb spine to the team, along with decent depth in almost every position.

Jose will of course be looking to ensure his team continue the fine form but everyone knows what he is capable of achieving in his second season.

He has successfully won the league at every club he’s managed in the second season. This is a statistic that bolds well for United fans everywhere.

Although, we should not expect a 4-0 win every week, reds have every right to be excited.

But we should also remember that we are yet to play any of last season’s top six and we are only two games into 2017/18. Having said that, United should expect to be right up there.

Follow @UnitedScotsman on Twitter for more news, views and opinions on everything United related.

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United Send Out Opening Day Message

By Harry Ogilvie

  • Lukaku at the double
  • Martial and Pogba join Belgium striker on scoresheet

After every other Premier League side had played, Manchester United faced a refreshed West Ham with several new faces.

Jose Mourinho would sure want to send out a statement after a disappointing Super Cup result and after some of the top six dropped some potentially important points.

Jose’s mindset was reflected in his first team selection. Starting both Juan Mata and Mkhitaryan, as well as Lukaku and Rashford.

This choice sure would have excited United fans. However, some may have been left disappointed hoping to see Anthony Martial start.

This had little effect on the result. As he came on and staked his claim for a starting spot with some superb contributions despite not being in the starting eleven.

Some players making the first appearance of the season included Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Daley Blind and Juan Mata. Who all missed out on an appearance against Real Madrid in the Super Cup.

Lukaku Bags First League Strike For United

Manchester United looked rejuvenated and began the game well. Dominating possession and playing some great football.

It was not until the 33rd minute that United took the lead through summer signing, Romelu Lukaku. Who also scored against Real the week before.

Nemanja Matic, another summer signing was also heavily involved in the goal.

He efficiently dispossessed Pedro Obiang in the middle of the park and gave the ball to Marcus Rashford. Who played the incisive pass through to Lukaku who smashed the ball off the post and into the net.

Manchester United continued to threaten after the goal but went in at half-time only 1-0 up.

Their efforts paid off in the second half. When the Belgian powerhouse bagged his second of the game with a glancing header past Joe Hart to put the Reds 2-0 up.

United were playing some of their best football since Sir Alex Ferguson left the club. The Red Devil’s were finally playing some seriously scintillating, exciting football which had been missed in recent seasons.

The football pleased United fans as the team continued to press for more goals despite being 2-0 up.

West Ham collapsed in the dying minutes as Martial raced through on goal after a flowing move from United and tucked the ball past Joe Hart.

Three minutes later Paul Pogba would score a fourth, bending the ball around the England number one.

The scoreline hardly flattered United as they were the dominant side throughout the game.

They could easily have scored another two or three with Lukaku nearly scoring a hat-trick. Rashford cracking the post and Mata squaring the ball instead of tucking it away.

Matic Amazes In The Middle Of Midfield

The Serbian midfielder looked terrific on his Premier League debut for Manchester United.  Stroking the ball around with speed and purpose, in addition to the running and dribbling he did. Matic ran over 11km in 90 minutes.

A big part of that running was when he won the ball and played Rashford forward and then took the other defender away to allow space for Lukaku to run through a bury his second goal.

The way he kept the ball and showed such composure and elegance on the ball was brilliant. Based on his appearances for the club so far, many believe he could be “signing of the summer”.

Both Chelsea manager, Antonio Conte and Chelsea fans were not left best pleased when the deep lying midfielder left the club.

His partnership with Paul Pogba was also something to be admired today. The pair looked to be completely unphased by whatever faced them.

Both sprayed the ball around comfortably and looked to pass forward whenever possible, which is something United struggled with last year.

The Belgian Bags A Brace

Romelu Lukaku was the other Premier League debutant and impressed many with his performance and link up play.

The 24 year old looked dangerous from the first time he got the ball. Nipping in front of the West Ham defender on the halfway line and proceeded to sprint down the line and win a corner.

The finish for his first goal was nothing short of exceptional as he hit the ball with power and precision off the post and in after some excellent work from Matic and Rashford.

He earned praise from former Arsenal star, Thierry Henry and Manchester United legend, Gary Neville.

Henry described his start as “amazing” and Neville was quick to echo the Premier League legend’s thoughts saying he was “outstanding”.

Martial Impresses in Short Time On Pitch

Other performances worth mentioning came from Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Phil Jones. And of course, the ever consistent, Antonio Valencia.

Marcus Rashford constantly looked dangerous with some great take ons, passes and shots on goal.

His best contribution was obviously his defence splitting assist for Lukaku’s second goal. But he also hit a superb shot after beating the defender and cutting in to bend a near perfect shot off the post.

Fellow Englishman, Phil Jones also deserves praise after consistently putting his body on the line with some solid challenges and tackles. As well as, making an effort to read the game and break up several lacklustre West Ham attacks.

Anthony Martial may not have started but he definitely staked his claim for a starting berth in the next game.

He only came on in the 80th minute and was instantly involved in the action. Managing both a goal and an assist before the final whistle.

The build up play for his goal was accurate and incisive. Before his cool, calm and composed finish beyond the ex-City goalkeeper.

Martial also played the pass inside to Pogba that led to his goal and looked to be heavily involved in all that was good about United in the closing 10 minutes.

Valencia Key Player For United

Antonio Valencia was also unsurprisingly good, doing what he does best. Getting up and down the wing at great speed with great power.

The Ecuadorian fired in some threatening crosses and never looked like losing the ball whenever in possession. Using his strength to hold off any immediate pressure.

Ultimately though, man of the match had to go to Nemanja Matic despite every United player putting in a performance worth at least a 7/10 rating.

Matic was everything Mourinho wanted and needed from a player playing his role. This was quite simply a flawless debut from the former Chelsea man.

The Manager’s View

The Boss was gracious in victory saying “I don’t think the game was 4-0 but you score the third and you breathe and relax and play with more confidence. It was a difficult game for us.”

He also critiqued his side’s performance saying “We didn’t start especially well, maybe we were a bit nervous, but then we had a quality performance, good personality and word which I like: confidence.”

Jose said he “was happy” and said “it was a very positive performance”.

However, he was quick to point out the fact he would not get carried away when he said “the fact we start with a win and are top of the league means nothing. Last season we were top after the first match so it means nothing,”

Although, the current league position means “nothing” to him, he did say “the level of performance means something” to him.

The gaffer also pointed to the progress his side has made since last season saying “we lost two points against West Ham last season” in this same fixture “and had lots of similar matches where we were dominant but didn’t score enough goals. Today we did and we got three important points.”

Match Reflection

It may only be the first day of the season, but today’s match definitely feels like a statement from Mourinho to the rest of the league after Liverpool and Chelsea failed to win and other members of the top six stumbled to victory.

I think Jose Mourinho wants to prove the world wrong and show Manchester United will reach the top again.

I definitely think should United bring in a full back and/or a high quality winger, the league is definitely within range. And even if we do not, I think we are still capable of challenging with our depth and range of tactical options.

Follow @UnitedScotsman on Twitter for more news, views and opinions on all things United related.

European Champions Prove Too Much For Mourinho’s Men

  • Lukaku, Lindelof and Matic all named in starting line-up
  • Lukaku notches second-half goal

Manchester United faced Real Madrid in their final preparation game ahead of the Premier League kick-off. The two sides contested the European Super Cup after winning Europe’s two elite competitions last season.

Real came into this game lookin827774746g to add another European Super Cup to their cabinet and successfully defend the trophy.

While Manchester United were contested the Super Cup for the first time since 2009. Despite the game being for a trophy it will be viewed by many as United’s final pre-season game.

Mourinho Named All Three New Arrivals In Starting Line-Up

Jose Mourinho fielded a strong team against the current European champions. His side included all three of the reds’ new signings: Victor Lindelof, Romelu Lukaku and Serbian defensive midfielder, Nemanja Matic.

The Portuguese boss also opted for the formation 3-5-2 with Lingard and Valencia operating as wing-backs. Mkhitaryan and Lukaku were in the most advanced roles with United’s strongest midfield three behind them. This three consisted of Matic, Herrera and of course, Paul Pogba.

Mourinho opted for a back three of Darmian, Smalling and Lindelof due to the suspension of Eric Bailly after his red card in the Europa League semi final.

Phil Jones was also suspended for verbally abusing a doping officer after being told to come for drug tests after the Europa League final, when United players were paying tribute to the victims of the Manchester terror attacks.

The Boss’s selection left a very strong bench of players for him to choose from, should the game be going against his side. Some of the players on the bench included Anthony Martial, Juan Mata, Marouane Fellaini and Marcus Rashford.

Real Madrid also appeared to have fielded their strongest team minus Cristiano Ronaldo. Who would start on the bench after being involved in the Confederation Cup earlier in the summer and only returning to training a couple of days ago.

Real Take Control

The game began fairly evenly despite the fact Zidane’s men had the majority of possession.

Both sides looked dangerous when attacking with United looking the more shaky of the two defensively in the opening exchanges.

Jose’s side appeared to be dealing with the threats of Isco and Modric in the opening twenty minutes. However, as the game progressed. Isco began to find pockets of space allowing Real to dominate the midfield and comfortably keep possession.

This eventually led to the deadlock being broken from a debatably offside goal from Casemiro after an exceptional ball over the top from Dani Carvajal. When he found an abundance of space to delicately lob the ball into the box.

From the twenty minute mark onwards, Real dominated, creating chances regularly with classy passes and forward play. Despite this, United appeared to come out slightly more positive and fired up in the second half.

Although, United were keeping the ball better and looking threatening, Real Madrid were still creating chances.

They were made to pay for their lack of defensive stability when Isco played a beautiful, incisive one-two with Gareth Bale before slotting the ball into the corner past David De Gea.

romelu-lukakuThe reds retaliated in sixty second minute when Lukaku pounced on the loose ball after Keylor Navas failed to grasp a powerful effort from outside the box by Nemanja Matic.

Unfortunately, this goal was not enough to change things for Jose’s side as Real expertly ran down the clock, getting fouls left, right and centre.

Impressive Performers

The best performance from any man in a red shirt definitely came from newcomer, Nemanja Matic. The holding midfielder appeared unfazed and composed when in possession and played several neat passes. As well as retaining the ball and tracking back effectively too.

matic

The 29 year old displayed exactly why Mourinho brought him to United. There was vast amounts of praise for the former Chelsea man on social media, hailing his performance as a “standout” and “absolutely brilliant”.

 

Matteo Darmian was another very impressive performer playing as the left centre back in the three. This game very much highlighted his versatility and his ability to put in a quality performance no matter where he plays in defence.

The Italian is clearly an asset to Mourinho and his squad. It is safe to say if he was to leave. He would be a bigger loss than most realise. The other two centre backs: Lindelof and Smalling also looked in good form with both making several blocks and clearances.

The Swede also appeared composed when passing out from the back despite looking shaky when defending at times.

Spanish shot-stopper, David De Gea also looked in fine fettle making a series of superb saves. The ex-Atletico keeper’s best save came in the ninety third minute from Marco Asensio who struck the ball well. Only for De Gea’s superb reaction save to tip the ball over the bar.

Match Reflection

Real Madrid really showed their quality and highlighted the fact United are still a fair distance away from their level. There was also some promising signs including the debutants performances. Lukaku’s goal specifically even if he did not play his greatest game.

Jose Mourinho will also learn plenty from tonight’s game and help him realise where the team needs to improve before the Premier League opening game on Sunday against West Ham.

This test highlighted the fact the United hierarchy need to be dipping into the transfer market again for a goalscoring winger and a dynamic full back.

The most worrying element about the match was the fact we are still struggling to be clinical and take our chances. Which was the main reason for our disappointing league campaign last year.

However, I also believe Mourinho will have a plan to improve this, hopefully including Anthony Martial who is always a major goal threat on his day.

Looking towards the West Ham match. I can see a fair few changes being made with the likes of Bailly, Mata and Martial coming into the side to freshen it up.

Although the result was not particularly positive. There are still quite a few reasons to be optimistic. Especially considering the fact we were playing the best club side in the world.

Follow @UnitedScotsman on Twitter for more news, views and opinions on everything United related.